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Photoshop Tools

Photoshop Tools

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Gradients and Fills are such
simple tools in Photoshop that
their simplicity can often hide their
power, especially in the hands of an
experienced Photoshop user.
A Fill is simply a way to pour a
single flat colour, pattern or history
state into a selected area, or the
whole canvas. Like most of the tools
in Photoshop, there is more than one
way in which to accomplish a Fill;
we’ll explore some of these different
techniques later on in this chapter.

Gradual benefits

The Gradient options are even
more powerful than Fills. With the
Gradient tool you can create a fill

In this chapter…

Learn to use and
control Gradients

Create Custom
Gradients,using the
gradient editing
features in Photoshop 7

Use the Paint Bucket
tool to fill areas with
a colour,pattern
or history

Use Gradients and
Fillsfor special effects
and image
manipulation

Remove a subject from
its background using
the Background and
Magic Eraser tools

Once you get more competent with
Photoshop you’ll appreciate the importance of
these utility tools.The Gradient tool in particular
is essential for all manner of tricks and effects

that gradually changes colour.
Gradients come in all kinds of
different shapes: Linear, Radial,
Angular, Reflected and Diamond,
and this makes them very useful for
a variety of different situations.
The Gradient Editing feature in
Photoshop enables you to create
gradients with two or more colours.
You can have a simple white-to-
black gradient, or a whole rainbow
of colours. For special effects work
the simple black and white gradient
is absolutely indispensable, putting
a whole range of additional options
at your disposal. For example, if you
want an effect to smoothly fade
from full strength to invisible then

it’s easy to use a white-to-black
gradient to control this, usually as
a layer mask.

Photo perfection

For photographers, coloured
gradients can play the role of custom
filters, making it easy to create
sultry sunsets or brooding, stormy
skies at the drag of a mouse. If you
combine gradients with alpha
channels you have the power user’s
playground. The ability to construct
complex masks and selections using
alpha channels and the Gradient tool
is unparalleled.
While the Fill and Gradient tools
are concerned with adding pixels to

an image, the next family of tools
that we’ll look at does quite the
opposite. The Eraser tool lets you
remove pixels by simply using a
brush, like an anti-paint brush,
which enables you to paint away
pixels on a layer leaving nothing but
transparency behind. The power
version of the Eraser is the
Background Eraser. This tool is
designed to make the extraction of
subjects from their background a
relatively simple task. Don’t be
fooled though – it’s still a tricky
proposition, but we’ll show you how
to avoid the pitfalls of this technique
so that you can achieve the best
possible results every time.

55

ADOBEPHOTOSHOPTOOLTECHNIQUES– FOCUSGUIDE

Gradients,Fills and Erasing

Page 64Blend two or more image
layers together with Gradients

Page 62Use gradients and blending
layers to simulate photographic filters

Page 66Learn how to avoid the pitfalls
of the Background Eraser tool

Page 56Learn how to fill colours in an
image using the Paint Bucket tool

Page 57Fill with 50% grey for special
effects and image enhancement

Page 59We look at the Gradient tool
and its various options

The Paint Bucket

The Paint Bucket tool lets you pour pixels
into any selection,and it has a few tricks too

56 FOCUSGUIDE– ADOBEPHOTOSHOPTOOLTECHNIQUES

Chapter 5

Missing Paint
Bucket?

Photoshop’s toolbar

has undergone many

revisions over the

years,so the Paint

Bucket may be

located elsewhere in

older versions.

Select and fill

Save time by using

the Paint Bucket in

one fell swoop,

instead of using the

Magic Wand to make

a selection and

then filling it.

Instead,what happens is the same as
with the Magic Wand tool.The Paint
Bucket searches for similar coloured pixels
to fill,within the tolerance that you set,rather
than covering the whole layer.Increase the
Tolerance setting in the Option bar to fill a
wider range of colours.

4

However,the Paint Bucket has more in
common with the Magic Wand than you
think.If your selected area already has image
pixels in it,clicking on the image will not
necessarily fill the whole selection or layer.

3

It can operate in Foreground Colour
mode or in Pattern mode,which you
choose from the drop-down menu in the
Options bar.You can then select a pattern
from the drop-down presets menu,also in the
Option bar,and click in the image to fill it.

2

The Paint Bucket can be found in the
sixth row of the toolbar in Photoshop 7,
in the same tool group as the Gradient tool.
If you make a selection you can use this tool
to fill it with the current foreground colour.

1

57

ADOBEPHOTOSHOPTOOLTECHNIQUES– FOCUSGUIDE

Gradients,Fills and Erasing

In the mode

In Overlay mode 50%

grey pixels are totally

transparent.Pixels

brighter than 50% are

applied in Screen mode,

while those darker than

50% are applied in

Multiply mode.

Video tutorials

On the CD this month

is a set of video

training tutorials

created by our very

own Photoshop guru,

George Cairns.If you

want to learn more

about using every

tool in the Photoshop

toolbar,you’ll find

your CD invaluable.

The layer is filled with the grey,by
making sure the Use All Layers option is
off and clicking in it.Now we can set the Layer
mode to Overlay and apply the noise,blur it
slightly,then change the opacity of the layer
any time we want to control the effect.

8

We need to soften the noise,by blurring
it but not the image.So we need to
apply the noise in a layer above the image.
However,the Noise filter does not work on a
transparent layer.Enter the Paint Bucket.
The Foreground Colour is set to 50% grey
using Colour Picker and setting Lab Lightness
to 50,A and B to 0.

7

Another use for fills is for special effects.
An example is for adding noise to a 3D
or digital image to make it look more like
photographic film.We could simply apply
noise to the image directly but this limits our
options later if we want to change the noise,
say,to make it less obvious.Applying the
noise as-is also tends to looks fake.

6

Using a lower tolerance you can build
up the fill by clicking a couple of times
on different areas of the image.In this example
we did so in a new layer.You have to make
sure the Use All Layers option is checked
when using a transparent layer for the fill.
Applying the layer in Color mode allows us to
change the colour of the girl’s kagool.

5

The Paint Bucket enables you
to fill areas using a tolerance
setting like the Magic Wand tool.
It also has settings to fill contiguous
pixels – or not, as the case may be.
Enabling the Contiguous mode in
the Paint Bucket tool’s Options bar
(this is the default setting) only fills
pixels that are both within the
tolerance and physically connected
in the image. Disabling this mode
causes the Paint Bucket to search
over the whole image for pixels
similar to the one that you click on.
The Anti-aliasing option simply

means that the edges of the fill are
smoothly anti-aliased to remove any
unsightly jagged edges.

More Fill options

The Paint Bucket is just one of a number of ways
in which you can fill an image or selection

58 FOCUSGUIDE– ADOBEPHOTOSHOPTOOLTECHNIQUES

Chapter 5

The difference between the smooth anti-aliased
fill (green) and the jagged non-anti-aliased fill
(pink) is quite obvious in this close-up

Fetching patterns

Custom fill patterns can

be found on the web.

Here’s the address of a

site where you can

download free

Photoshop patterns:

http://graphicssoft.about.

com/library/free/

blfree_pspatterns1.htm

Keep it cool

Fills and patterns are

useful for creating

backdrops for web

pages.Be careful

though,because

patterned backgrounds

can be very distracting,

so keep them as subtle

as possible.

YOU CANfill using the current foreground colour by typing [Alt]+

[Delete].Typing [Ctrl]+[Delete] (or [Command]+[Delete] for Mac users)

will fill using the current background colour.Pressing the [D] key reverts

the colour to the default black and white.

ANOTHERWAYto fill is using the Edit > Fill menu command.This has a

few extras,such as a pop-up menu for choosing to fill with either White,

Black,Foreground or Background colour,or the handy ‘50% Grey’.

THEFILLCommand also enables you to fill using the earmarked

history state in the History palette.You can furthermore set it to Pattern

mode and choose a pattern from within the Fill dialog.

CHOOSEYOURpattern from one of Photoshop’s presets or use your

own custom-made pattern if you prefer.Any rectangular selection can

be stored as a pattern using the Edit > Define Pattern command.

FILLINGTIPS

The Gradient tool

The Gradient tool is indispensable when
working on multi-layered documents

59

ADOBEPHOTOSHOPTOOLTECHNIQUES– FOCUSGUIDE

Gradients,Fills and Erasing

Degrees of
constraint

Hold down the [Shift]

key while dragging to

constrain the angle of

your gradient to

45-degree increments.

Gradient presets

While using the

Gradient tool right-click

to pop up the gradient

presets palette.Mac

users will need to press

[Ctrl] instead.

The distance you drag will define the
width of the gradient.It can by very
tight if you only drag a little way (top) or very
loose if you drag a long way (bottom).Note
that before the first point the pixels are made
up of 100% first colour,and after the last point
they are 100% last colour.

4

The Gradient tool can be found in the
sixth row of the toolbar,and has an icon
with a small black-to-white gradient.Use the
tool by simply dragging out a line indicating
the direction of the gradient.The first point
you click defines where the first colour will
end,and the point where you release the
mouse after dragging is where the second (or
last colour if it has more the two) will begin.

3

...or colourful,like this red-to-green
gradient.You can also blend a
monotone colour,like black or white into a
colour such as red,and the brightness and
saturation of the colour will smoothly blend
across the distance that you specify.

2

A gradient is very simply two colours
spread over a distance and smoothly
blended from the one to the other.They can
be monotone,like this simple black-to-white
linear gradient…

1

The Gradient Tool continued

60 FOCUSGUIDE– ADOBEPHOTOSHOPTOOLTECHNIQUES

Chapter 5

See-through
options

The Transparency

check-box in the

Options bar allows you

to turn off the

transparent part of a

gradient if it is enabled.

Make it noisy

The Dither check-box

enables a dithering or

jitter to the gradient,

adding a touch of

noise,which can help

reduce banding

effects when printing.

Custom gradients can contain any
number colours that you specify and
are edited in the Gradient Editing panel.They
can also incorporate transparency.Here is a
custom preset that combines a multicolour
gradient with alternating transparency.

8

Foreground to Transparent takes the
current foreground colour and blends
it to nothing,leaving only transparent pixels.
This can be great for blending gradients over
images,for example.

7

Foreground to Background mode
simply uses the current foreground
colour as the first point,and the current
background colour as the last point and
creates a blend between them.

6

There are actually three types of
gradient.Foreground to Background,
Foreground to Transparent,and Custom.Each
type is selected from the preset pop-up in the
Gradient tool’s Option bar.There are usually a
number of preset custom gradients available.

5

When the Gradient tool is
selected, clicking on the
preset sample at the top-left of the
Option bar opens up the Gradient
Editor panel. Here you can choose
from a range of ready-made
gradients, or create your own.
To create a custom gradient just
select a preset and begin editing the
colours of the ‘nodes’in the editing
strip at the bottom of the panel.
The top of the strip contains the
transparency nodes, while the
bottom contains the colour nodes.
Click on a node (or ‘Color Stop’as

Adobe calls them) to edit its colour.
The Stops section lets you edit
the properties of the selected stop.

The Gradient Editor panel

Editing gradients is done in the Gradient Editor
panel in Photoshop 6 onwards

61

ADOBEPHOTOSHOPTOOLTECHNIQUES– FOCUSGUIDE

Gradients,Fills and Erasing

Clicking on a colour node,(or ‘Stop’as Adobe
calls them) in the gradient strip at the bottom
of the panel selects it for editing.

Changing stops

Creating new stops is

done by clicking in free

space above or below

the gradient strip.To

remove a stop,

drag it away and let go.

Stops can be moved by

dragging them

left or right.

The Preset list is displayed
at the top.You can change
the size of the previews from
the panel’s pop-up menu.

You can change the type
of gradient from the pop-up.
The options are Color
(normal) and Noise.

Create a new preset from
the current gradient strip by
clicking on this button here.

The Color Stops (or nodes)
are displayed underneath the
gradient strip.Click on one to
select it for editing.Clicking
where there is no stop
present adds a new one.

the TransparencyStops
are displayed on top of the
gradient strip.They can be
either white,black or shades
of grey only.

When you select a Colour
or TransparencyStop its
mid-point handle is also
displayed.Drag this to
change the rate of blending
between nodes.

THEGRADIENTEDITOR EXPLAINED

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